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You Can’t Find What You Don’t Look For: Big Tech Can’t Find Austin Artists

March 11, 2018 Comments off

You may not know the names Shinyribs, Guy Forsyth, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Grupo Fantasma, Carolyn Wonderland, Sara Hickman or Jimmy LaFave, but we do here in Austin.  You probably know Willie Nelson and so do we.  We even have a street named after Willie.

What else do these artists have in common aside from being some of Austin’s most loved and respected artists and songwriters?  Spotify, Google, Amazon, iHeart can’t seem to find them and have sent “address unknown” NOIs for all of them.  (This issue involves mechanical royalties, not SoundExchange royalties or ASCAP/BMI/SESAC royalties.  For the background on mass NOI loophole see my article from the American Bar Association Entertainment & Sports Lawyer.)  The more we research this issue, the less anyone will believe that the Music Modernization Act is going to solve the problem of not finding what you don’t look for.  (You can search for yourself in the SX Works NOI Lookup database (account registration required) that indexes the 60,000,000 plus “address unknown” notices to the Copyright Office from companies like Spotify, Google, Amazon–although interestingly, not Apple.  Apple seems to be able to run their service on a loophole-free basis.)

Realize that this is not the fault of the songwriter–it’s easy to find these songwriters if you look for them.  The problem is that the only place these services are required to look is in the public records of the Copyright Office and the songs will only be there if the songwriter registered them which they are not obligated to do in order to be paid mechanical royalties.  Seems kind of confusing and circular?  That’s because it is and because it is a loophole that hardly anyone ever used since 1976–up until Big Tech found it in 2016.

It is particularly galling that these giant companies all come to SXSW with a big presence but can’t seem to manage to pay our top songwriters.  And remember–it’s not that there is a deferred royalty or retroactive royalty–until these songwriters either prove that they actually already registered their songs in the Copyright Office or do in the future, they don’t get a royalty at all courtesy of a loophole in the Copyright Act and the abject failure of the Congress to do anything about it.  And remember–there is nothing that requires them to register in order to enjoy all the rights of a copyright owner, including the right to make Spotify rich and Google richer.

That’s right–81 notices on the late Jimmy LaFave:

Jimmy LaFave

Ray Wylie Hubbard has 126:

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Shinyribs got 57:

Shinyribs

Carolyn Wonderland racked up 189:

Carolyn

Sara Hickman has 111:

Sara Hickman

Grupo Fantasma gets 62:

Grupo

Guy Forsyth has 103:

Guy Forsyth

And Willie Nelson has 2,897:

Willie Nelson

So when ya’ll tech bros are in Austin this week, make sure you drop by if any of the songwriters you are stiffing are playing a show.  You could even tip.  Maybe you can find them in the SXSW show listings.

And enjoy your visit.

A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Victims w/ Guy Forsyth & Friends (Aug. 31, Antone’s 9:30 pm)

August 29, 2017 Comments off

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This Thursday, 8/31/17 Legendary Blues Club Antone’s (305 East 5th Street, Austin) will host “A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Victims with Guy Forsyth, Carolyn Wonderland & Friends” starting at 9:30.

Acting quickly, locally based but world traveling Austin music icon Guy Forsyth has donated his already booked show to the Red Cross to help raise money for the unprecedented disaster still unfolding on the Gulf coast.

“This is heartbreaking, and the only way to deal with something of this scale is find a way to help.” said Forsyth this morning. “So this is what we do, Texans take care of their own. Carolyn Wonderland was the first person I asked and she said yes in seconds.”

Carolyn Wonderland is known internationally for her soul saving voice and down right damning guitar playing. Other guests are expected…

Tickets on Ticketfly

To help people affected by , please visit or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

 

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